An estimated 28.5 billion networked devices will be connected to the internet by 2022, a major increase from the 18 billion networked devises in 2017. As the world continues in digital advances and it revolutionising human life, one must remain vigilant against “malicious technologies that could imperil the security of future generations”, warned the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA).
“Digital technologies are increasingly straining existing legal, humanitarian and ethical norms, non-proliferation, international stability, and peace and security”, said UN Office for Disarmament Affairs head Izumi Nakamitsu. She is Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
The digital advances and new technologies reduced access barriers and opened new potential domains for conflict. This gave the State and non-State actors the strength to wage attacks within the borders and across international borders
RISING CYBER CRIMES
The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs pointed out that the world in recent years saw a drastic jump in malicious technologies, targeting information and communications technology from disinformation to deliberate network disruption. This led to lowering of trust between States and even threatened critical infrastructure that depended on it.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had raised a similar concern during a recent debate. He noted that several countries reported a rise in cyber attacks on healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We must do more to prevent and end these new forms of aggression, which can cause further severe harm to civilians,” he said.
Nakamitsu mentioned that online violent extremism and trafficking have serious impact on men, women and children, as do other ICT-related threats such as cyberstalking, non-consensual dissemination of intimate information and intimate partner violence. As such, she stressed the need for “equal, full and effective participation” of both women and men in decision making in digital arena.
She said that stern efforts are on to address the serious threats. She noted that expert groups at the government level for more than a decade have made several recommendations to address the existing and emerging ICT dangers to international security. They made recommendations with respect to capacity-building, confidence-building and cooperation measures.
The UN Official stated that regional organisations are undertaking efforts, from implementing voluntary, non-binding norms on States to pioneering regional confidence-building measures or adopting regional tools to reduce ICT risks.
THE BATTLE FOR EVERYONE
Despite the primary responsibility for international security lying with the States, the UN Official opined that information and communications technology was an integral part of societies. “The participants of ICT too have a role to play in securing cyberspace. Perspectives from the private sector, civil society and academia contribute a unique and important part of the collective solution to cybersecurity that the international community is seeking,” she said.
Nakamitsu pointed out that the UN “stands ready to support States and others in promoting a peaceful ICT environment. She also said that the UN chief’s “Agenda for Disarmament” looked into new generation technologies that posed serious challenges to “existing legal, humanitarian and ethical norms, non-proliferation; and peace and security”.
The Agenda for Disarmament calls for working with scientists, engineers and industry on technological innovation for peaceful purposes. It also wants to “foster a culture of accountability and adherence to emerging norms, rules and principles on responsible behaviour in cyberspace”.